***UPDATE JULY 2018 – The Terrace Hotel is no longer open for business***
The Terrace Hotel opened for business in the Perth CBD last year, a boutique hotel established in the heritage-listed St George House building on the corner of St George’s Terrace and Mount Street (opposite the Woodside building).
I was recently offered the opportunity by lastminute.com.au to stay and dine at The Terrace Hotel and blog about the experience. May is Jac’s and my anniversary month; we’ve been together for 16 years, and I thought a night in the hotel would be a great way to celebrate. And of course, I was keen to check out the restaurant.
But poor Jac’s been battling the lurgy that’s doing the rounds. That Saturday, she felt so sick she cancelled her appointment with her hairdresser and didn’t go to hockey. She spent most of the day in bed. We were determined to go ahead with our plan – Jac would rest as much as she could that day, then join me in the evening for dinner and to spend the night at the hotel. While Jac slept at home, my Terrace Hotel experience would begin with my sister Juji joining me for afternoon tea.
The formal dining room at The Terrace exudes elegance, with brown leather Chesterfield seats, tables laid with china cups and saucers with folded linen napkins, and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It feels special even before the teapots and three-tiered dishes arrive.
There are two package for afternoon tea at The Terrace Hotel – the Temperance package (AU$42) and the Daisy package (AU$58, with a glass of NV Veuve Clicquot). We chose Temperance and each picked a tea from the selection of Harney & Sons loose leaf teas on the menu. Juji chose Supreme Breakfast, and I chose White Vanilla Grapefruit. I was pleased with my tea choice – it was citrusy, with the subtle fragrance of vanilla. Juji enjoyed hers with a touch of milk. The teapots are enormous and quite heavy to lift and pour when full. They’re good value for tea lovers, capable of drinking cup after cup.
Tea poured and sipped, it was time for indulgence. On the top tier were scones with a jar of strawberry jam and the single item that most thrilled us: a lusciously rounded scoop of clotted cream. Also on the top tier totally upstaged by the clotted cream, were slices of rhubarb strudel – sugar-dusted layers of flaky crisp pastry wrapped around a sweet stewed rhubarb filling. When the scones were all gone, we ate the clotted cream with the strudel (yes, in that order).
On the second tier, little cakes. I’m used to sticky date cakes being dense and heavy, but this mini loaf-shaped beauty was surprisingly light and moist, topped with fluffy chocolate cream. The passionfruit tart consisted of a custard-filled square of shortcrust pastry topped with a shiny passionfruit glaze. Last, the Paris Brest, a choux pastry ring filled with sweetened whipped cream.
The Paris Brest was created in 1891 in honour of a bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris, known as the PBP. The choux pastry is circular, to represent a bicycle wheel.
I was most excited about the savoury tier of finger sandwiches, made with soft, fresh white bread, crusts off (could’ve been more neatly done, but that’s an observation rather than a complaint) – avocado with chicken, smoked salmon with cream cheese, cucumber, and our favourite, curried egg.
As far as afternoon teas go, this one was very good. We’d both skipped lunch and each struggled to finish the last items. Everything tasted freshly made, not a stale scone or fridge-cold sandwich to be found. While we poured tea and munched away delicately, we enjoyed the jazzy tunes from a singer performing on the verandah.
I’m yet to find my perfect afternoon tea – I’d prefer more savoury items than sweet. I’ve often thought it would be fabulous to have a design-your-own afternoon tea. It would work like this:
- Diners have three tiers for items. Maximum number of items on a tier is determined by the restaurant, so no one goes overboard (the other way is to charge per item, rather than per person).
- Diners choose from a selection of sweet and savoury items. Ideally there would other savoury morsels, not just finger sandwiches – mini quiches or tarts, for example. Mini sausage rolls would be amazing. Ideally, the menu would change regularly, so you’d have reason to come back.
What do you think of that idea?
After demolishing our afternoon tea (in the most charmingly civilised manner, of course), it was time for me to check in at the hotel. Reception is accessible from the restaurant, but if you’re entering from the street, there’s a single white door to the right of the main entrance.
My room was Terrace Suite No.5, on the first floor. There are 15 rooms all together at The Terrace Hotel, out of which only two are Terrace Suites that face onto St George’s Terrace, each approximately 48m2. The Terrace Suite is certainly the grandest hotel room I’ve stayed in in Perth. You walk into a sumptuously appointed lounge with armchair and sofa, writing desk, flat screen TV, fireplace and a Japanese-style wardrobe in which the mini bar and snacks are kept, along with a selection of teas, a Nespresso machine and Nespresso capsules. There are no UHT milk portions in the fridge – a staff member brought me a jug of fresh milk for tea/coffee.
The mini bar prices are typical for top shelf and premium quality beverages. I brought the mini spirit bottles out from the wardrobe to show you (picture below). Prices for the mini spirit bottles range from AU$11 for Hendricks gin to AU$26 for Patron Silver tequila. In the fridge there are beers, Little Creatures Pipsqueak cider, Henschke white wine, water and soft drinks. For the Coke fiends, it’s AU$6 for a bottle of Coke or Coke Zero. For those really special occasions, there’s a bottle of French champagne chilling – Ruinart Blanc de Blanc from Reims, France (AU$128). There are gourmet snacks available, also stored in the wardrobe, and a box of Nakamura handmade chocolates (AU$20).
The bedroom is even more spacious than the lounge, with a king-sized poster bed with goose down and feather pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets.
In the bedroom is another writing desk and Bang and Olufsen HD digital TV and surround sound system with remote control. There’s Foxtel IQ and Apple TV and a connectivity panel so you can plug in your own devices: AV red/white/yellow inputs, VGA, HDMI and USB ports. There’s an iPad which you can use for internet browsing or one-touch icon access to the hotel’s restaurant and room service menus. You can access free wireless internet in the room and throughout other areas of the hotel – the wifi password is provided at check-in. In the second, larger Japanese wardrobe are a personal safe, bathrobes, slippers, iron and ironing board, umbrella and a yoga mat. All of these features, including the technology, are available in all rooms at the hotel.
The bathroom is large with black marble walls, an open shower area (no shower screen) and separate bath. Although the suite has retained much of the building’s original character, the plumbing is definitely not ‘heritage’ – the drainage from the shower worked well, the shower water pressure was decent (love the large shower head – not quite a rain shower head, but bigger than average) and it was easy to get the water to my desired temperature. I’ve had a few memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons hotel stays involving temperamental showers that were either freezing cold or blazing hot, and toilets with sluggish cisterns. There were no such issues here. The only thing missing was a full-length mirror.
I spent a couple of hours relaxing on the very comfy bed, watching cooking shows on the Food Network. Jac arrived early evening and we went to the bar for pre-dinner drinks. Although she still had a cough and blocked nose, Jac was feeling better from having rested most of the day, and she perked up visibly as she browsed the bar’s impressive beer and wine list, presented in a leather-bound binder.
She tried two international wheat beers – Blanche de Namur by Brasserie du Bocq from Belgium and Kellerweis Hefeweizen by Sierra Nevada from California, USA. She still stopped to blow her nose from time to time, but she was definitely smiling a lot more!
We returned to our room to freshen up before dinner. The Terrace Hotel provides daily housekeeping including an evening turn down service, and Housekeeping had left a card with the next day’s weather forecast, with a chocolate (filled with praline and wafer, I discovered later) on each bedside table. It’s little touches like this that make a hotel stay memorable.
The restaurant was starting to get busy as we took our seats at 7pm, but evidently timing was on our side as our starters arrived very quickly.
Jac ordered the wagyu carpaccio with smoked potato mousse, fresh wasabi, watercress (AU$19). The tiny measures of fresh wasabi went brilliantly with the thinly sliced raw beef. Jac declared it a dish she’d happily order again.
If there’s a scallop dish on the menu, you can bet I’ll order it. Three seared scallops with char siu duck, chilli, soy & peanut dressing and celeriac (AU$22) – I wiped the plate clean and fantasised for the rest of the meal about a main-sized portion. The scallops were arranged on top of soft, sweet duck patties and creamy celeriac puree. I like my scallops more caramelised, but these were cooked beautifully and superbly tender. I didn’t need my knife at all.
Jac’s main course was a little less successful. She chose the Cone Bay barramundi with creamed curried mussels, baby leeks and salsify chips (AU$44). The baby leeks had imparted their flavour but were quite fibrous. It was a beautiful piece of fish but Jac found the sauce very salty.
Anyone who knows me well would’ve easily picked my main course: slow cooked crispy Linley Valley pork belly, served with potato and seeded mustard puree, roasted winter vegetables, braised fennel and cider jus (AU$36). The pork was absolutely phwoarsome. It was such pleasure to eat the crunchy crackling and the juicy layers of flesh and soft, melting fat with the dark, salty edges along the underside.
TFP Terms explained
Phwoarsome – food so desirable and delicious you can’t help but say “PHWOAR!” when seeing and/or eating it. Rarely used to describe cereal or vegetables.
We shared a side dish of cabbage and bacon (AU$9). The cabbage was cooked well, retaining its crunch, studded with chunks of bacon. Jac found this dish also on the verge of being too salty, but I couldn’t stop eating it. We’ve clearly got different thresholds for salt; I was raised on a diet high in soy sauce.
For dessert, I ordered the coconut crème caramel and passionfruit sorbet served with mango and chilli salsa and coconut tuille (AU$16). The crème caramel was exquisitely wobbly and silky smooth, every dig with my spoon supremely satisfying. The passionfruit sorbet was pucker face tart. I wasn’t so fond of the mango and chilli salsa – although I like sweet-salty combinations, the chilli flavour just didn’t do it for me for dessert. The tuille stuck to my teeth on my first bite and I left the rest alone. The crème caramel was stole the show.
Jac chose the selection of cheeses (3 cheeses, AU$22) served with apple and pear chutney, water crackers and rye bread. I didn’t write down the names of the individual cheeses but they included a sharp, crumby cheddar, a creamy blue, and a pungent washed rind cheese that I could only describe (while pulling a face – my stinky cheese face, not my sour sorbet face) as horsey. It’s a lot of cheese for one person – I’d recommend sharing if you can, to do it justice. I wonder if they’d let guests take the wooden board up to their room to work on the cheese at their leisure (no, we didn’t ask!)?
Have you had crazy cheese-powered dreams after eating too much cheese too close to bedtime? Jac seems immune to those. It probably helped that the bed was extremely comfortable, one of the best hotel beds we’ve slept on, I daresay better than our bed at home. They’ve done an outstanding job with the room’s sound-proofing. I was surprised at how quiet it was, especially as the Terrace Suite faces St George’s Terrace. When you step outside the room, you immediately hear the noise floating up from the restaurant and bar; but when you’re in the suite with the door closed, you barely hear a sound from outside.
It was tempting to stay in bed on Sunday until check-out time, but I wanted breakfast. And coffee!
Jac ordered the baked chorizo, cannellini beans, baba ganoush with a free range egg (AU$16). The egg was unevenly cooked; overdone on top but soft underneath. The bread was barely toasted and would’ve been better not toasted at all. We’ve had a far better version of baked chorizo, beans and soft egg at Harvest Espresso in Victoria Park (sadly, not available on their current menu).
Pancakes, banana, maple syrup (AU$13) are one of my favourite breakfast combos. Three fluffy pancakes were served in a stack dripping with maple syrup, sitting in a glistening pool of more syrup. I’d have preferred more banana and no strawberries, but the pancakes and syrup were excellent.
I was pleased with the amount of bacon we received in our side order (AU$5). And it was good streaky bacon too, which I rolled in my magical pool of syrup.
Service was friendly during all the meals (and throughout our stay), but at breakfast, the busiest of the three, beyond the initial order and delivery of our food and drinks, no one made further eye contact or returned to check on us or clear away my empty juice glass and coffee cup. It was a shame; we’d have probably ordered a second round of coffee if offered.
We were a little sad to check out after breakfast. It would’ve been wonderful to just laze around all day, maybe order a little room service (available 24 hours) and enjoy the opulence for just a little longer. But at home, several loads of laundry, a dishwasher in need of emptying and the next week’s blog posts were waiting. Happy anniversary, but back to reality! Still, I was stoked that Jac was able to enjoy the evening and breakfast with me.
In creating the character and splendour of the new hotel in this restored heritage building, a balance between antique charm and modern convenience has been thoughtfully and tastefully executed. The accommodation is top-notch; we were very impressed with the quality and attention to detail in the room fittings and amenities. Afternoon tea was delightful and the scallop dish is a cracker – don’t miss it while it’s on the winter menu. While Jac found dinner a touch too salty (Miss Soy Sauce 1975 had no such issues), the extensive beer and wine list will definitely lure her back. The budget-conscious traveller will keep walking, but if you’re looking for luxury in splendid surroundings in the Perth CBD, you’ve arrived at the right place.
Thanks to lastminute.com.au for arranging this experience at The Terrace Hotel. Our accommodation and meals were compliments of The Terrace Hotel, though prices have been included for the readers’ information. We paid for our bar drinks ourselves.
***UPDATE JULY 2018 – The Terrace Hotel is no longer open for business***